Nurseries might start to smile, but for hundreds of Olive Trees in Gallipoli, the axe is nearing.
The decision made on Tuesday evening (May 27, 2014) within the EU Committee for plant health involves both a stick and carrot approach: in the containment strategy against the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium, a partial liberalization of nursery activities has been granted on one hand, and on the other, the eradication of infected plants has been imposed.
Not all, of course, but certainly those within a hundred-meter strip between the outbreak area and the buffer zone. Translating this into the number of olive trees is currently complicated, but it is in the order of several hundred.
The war against the Xylella bacterium, hundreds of olive trees to be cut down in Gallipoli
What has been envisioned is a sort of sanitary cordon around the locality “La Castellana” and the heart of the infection, between Alezio, Gallipoli, and Taviano.
Right there yesterday morning, another professor from the University of Berkeley (USA), Alexander Purcell, a colleague of Rodrigo Almeida, who was present on-site in November, conducted a survey. It is in that stretch of countryside that, after further monitoring to identify the plants affected by the accused bacterium, the trees will be cut down.
“We will proceed with these checks; by summer, we will have some results.”Antonio Guado
Reporting this is Antonio Guado, director of the regional phytosanitary observatory, who spent two days in Brussels discussing the decision conceived by the EU Commission and voted on by representatives of the 28 Member States.
That the olive trees will be uprooted is said reluctantly: “in the implementation plan, we have planned interventions in a restricted area; we must protect the buffer zone, which is still unharmed, through a demarcation strip from the infected one.”
In short, this time it was not possible to prevail, as in December, when the eradication measure was frozen. “International quarantine rules provide for the uprooting of infected plants as the first point. We made it clear in Brussels that here we have a very different situation between outbreaks with few trees, like those already cut down in Trepuzzi and Sternatia, and others with 5-6 thousand hectares affected. Obviously, the Gallipoli area will not be razed to the ground, but we must try to contain the expansion, sacrificing that hundred-meter strip. The alternative is that everything becomes infected.”
Then, there is the more positive chapter, that of the nurseries. “After long discussions and clarifications, it is written in a note released yesterday by the regional Department of Agriculture — it was finally understood that the Xylella fastidiosa identified in Puglia is a strain with specific peculiarities that make it different from those found in other continents.
The new EU decision repeals the previous one of February 13, so the restrictions no longer affect the entire province of Lecce but only the delimited areas defined by a regional act of April 18.
Only nurseries that fall within those areas have specific constraints and only for species that to date, based on scientific evidence, have been ascertained as hosts: olive, oleander, stone fruit, periwinkle, and oak. An important result is the exclusion of citrus and vines.
This is not only extremely positive for the viticultural nurseries present in the Otranto area, but it allows the marketing of all other plant species without particular constraints and phytosanitary measures.”
On the mortification of this economy, after the announcement of a class action by entrepreneurs, the provincial councilor for Agriculture intervenes.
Francesco Pacella: “It would be appropriate for the Region to urgently find the necessary and adequate resources in the budget folds to compensate them.”
He is echoed by the regional councilor Fi, Luigi Mazzei: “The Vendola administration is lost and continues to lose itself behind studies that take a long time and promise results that are far off.”
From Quotidiano di Lecce, May 29, 2014